Solarflare has announced the expansion of its SFN5000 family of 10GbE server adapters with the launch of several new midrange 10GbE adapters. The Solarflare SFC9000 controller LAN-on-motherboard (LOM), announced in August 2009, enables the product's low-power, hardware-assisted virtualization and aggressive cost performance ratios.

The SFC9000 is the industry's lowest power controller and the industry's first LOM with integrated 10GBASE-T. With its hardware-assisted support for virtualization, the SFC9000 delivers up to 5 times the application performance of other server adapters by accelerating virtual I/O for Citrix XenServer, Microsoft Hyper V and VMware. The SFC9000 also possesses the industry's most scalable virtualization architecture, supporting up to 256 virtual functions and up to 2048 virtual NICs, 16 times greater scalability than conventional approaches.

The company's two new dual-port and single-port midrange 10GbE server adapters complement the currently shipping enterprise 10GbE server adapters, expanding Solarflare's footprint in the market, while offering customers better performance at more aggressive cost and performance points.

Midrange 10GbE server adapters

Solarflare's midrange dual-port and single-port 10GbE adapters deliver high-performance, low latency, low power and scalable I/O virtualization, offering exceptional value for datacenters, enterprise networks, virtualization and cloud applications, and high performance compute (HPC) clusters: SFN5162F Dual-Port 10GbE SFP+ Server Adapter, SFN5161T Dual-Port 10GBASE-T Server Adapter, SFN5152F Single-Port SFP+ Server Adapter, and the SFN5151T Single-Port 10GBASE-T Server Adapter.

"Our customers are very excited about our expanded 10GbE server adapter portfolio," Russell Stern, CEO of Solarflare. "Our midrange server adapters offer customers exceptional value. The power, performance and cost advantages are all possible because we were the first company with a 10GBASE-T LOM chip and have the lowest power PHY and the lowest power controller. We have the right feature set to enable high-frequency trading, high-performance computing for select verticals, such as scientific computing, oil, gas and manufacturing, as well as server virtualization for cloud networking."

Solarflare is the first and only company shipping both low-power, sub 5-watt 10GBASE-T transceivers and integrated, single monolithic 10GBASE-T LOM chips. Because Solarflare is the only company with the lowest power 10GBASE-T LOM, it is able to bring to market the lowest-power, single port 10GBASE-T adapter, at 7.9 watts, and the lowest power dual port 10GBASE-T adapter, at 12.9 watts, versus competing solutions at 20 watts or more. When a datacenter customer deploys 1000s of servers, the power savings add up to a quarter of a million kw/hours per year (2000 servers * 2 slots*7 watts*24 hours*365 days).

Solarflare 10GbE network adapters, often in combination with Solarflare OpenOnload application acceleration middleware, enable companies in a wide range of industries to build high-performance compute (HPC) clusters and datacenters that meet the most demanding computing and networking challenges. These include financial services, virtualized datacenters, energy, oil and gas and academic computing environments.

To date, Solarflare has shipped the SFN5122F 10GbE dual port SFP+ adapter to over 100 customers and 150 locations in China, Europe, US, India, Hong Kong and Singapore. The SFN5122F, with its OpenOnload application acceleration middleware, is also installed in every major equities exchange worldwide.

Pricing and availability

  • SFN5162F Dual-Port 10GbE SFP+ Midrange Server Adapter. US List price $825, available now.
  • SFN5161T Dual-Port 10GBASE-T Midrange Server Adapter. US List price $900, available now.
  • SFN5152F Single-Port 10GbE SFP+ Midrange Server Adapter. US List price $619, available now.
  • SFN5151T Single-Port 10GBASE-T Midrange Server Adapter. US List price $675, available now.

Voltaire has announced that it continues to grow its adVantage Partner Program, which now includes more than fifty partner organizations consisting of resellers, VARs and distributors. The program provides comprehensive sales, marketing, technical training and support services to help partners worldwide sell Voltaire's industry-leading portfolio of 10 Gigabit Ethernet (10GbE) and InfiniBand datacenter solutions.

New members of the program include Dasher Technologies and Torrey Point which recommend Voltaire products to their customers because of their differentiated and solutions-oriented approach to networking. In addition to 10GbE and InfiniBand switching platforms, the Voltaire portfolio includes unique software offerings to address key networking requirements such as: managing networks in the age of cloud computing and virtualized datacenters, accelerating access to storage, and reducing latency for applications such as high frequency trading.

"Our strong technical expertise and vendor independence allow us to integrate best-of-breed software, hardware and services into a custom solution that directly impacts the business, said Al Chien, Vice President of Sales and Marketing, Dasher Technologies. "Voltaire's approach to 10GbE networks includes a software management layer in addition to the switches that is unique in the industry and serves as the foundation for cloud networking. We are pleased to be part of the adVantage program and to offer Voltaire solutions to our customers."

"Torrey Point designs networks with a focus on maximizing the return on technology investment for our worldwide clientele," said Steve Fazio, chief executive officer, Torrey Point. "Voltaire's 10GbE solutions meet the new infrastructure requirements for datacenter and cloud computing environments of all sizes. We are pleased to add Voltaire products to our offering."

"Growing the adVantage Partner Program to more than fifty channel partners worldwide represents a significant milestone for Voltaire's continued expansion into the 10GbE market," said Patrick Guay, executive vice president of global sales and general manager at Voltaire. "We are continually expanding our product set while providing our partners with more technical and sales content via our partner portal to enhance the program. The adVantage program provides our partners with the fundamental tools to help differentiate their business and to deliver an outstanding customer experience. The formula is simple: provide leading-edge products that enable unique solutions -- at an extremely competitive price point, with up-to-date technical training, and outstanding support."

The conference program for the 2009 International Supercomputing Conference (ISC’09)is now finalized, and according to ISC’09 General Chair Prof. Hans Meuer, this year's conference program is set to be the most illustrious in the 24-year history of the conference. This year’s conference will be held June 23-24 in Hamburg.

The four-day high performance computing conference and trade show at the Congress Center Hamburg provides a unique international platform to gain insights, network and do business, all under one roof. With over 1,500 attendees and more than 120 exhibitors from over 45 countries expected to attend, ISC’09 is shaping up to be the most extensive and dynamic since the conference began as a meeting in Mannheim in 1986.

ISC, which marks its 24th anniversary in 2009, has a well-established reputation for presenting well-founded, precise and up-to-date information in an environment that encourages informal conversations and sharing of ideas. ISC is also the largest high performance computing exhibition in Europe. All conference proceedings are conducted in English.

In addition to world-renowned keynote speakers, ISC’09 will feature four in-depth sessions examining some of the most exciting – and challenging – areas in high performance computing today. Here is a quick look at each of the sessions:

“Every year, as we put together the conference program, I say this will be the best ever, but this year the program is truly illustrious,” said Conference Chair Prof. Hans Werner Meuer of the University of Mannheim. “For 2009, we have four days of presentations, an impressive lineup of speakers and our largest exhibition ever. At the same time, we have also updated our pricing structure to ensure that everyone who wants to attend can afford this extremely valuable investment.”

The ISC’09 program also includes four keynote speakers:

An overview of the ISC’09 conference program can be found at http://www.supercomp.de/isc09/Program/Overview.

Online registration starts on March 2

Advance registration for ISC’09 begins Monday, March 2, and in addition to reduced rates, a number of one-day options for both the program and exhibition are being offered for the first time. As an added incentive for U.S. attendees, the U.S. dollar is about 25 percent stronger against the euro than last year. For complete details on registration categories and rates, go to: http://www.supercomp.de/isc09/Registration-Travel/Attendance-Fees

Fulcrum Microsystems has announced the FocalPoint FM6000 series of fully integrated wire-speed 10G and 40G Ethernet switch chips, which incorporate the company's new and innovative Alta high-speed Ethernet switching architecture.

One key new feature of the FM6000 series switches is Fulcrum's FlexPipe low-latency packet-processing pipeline, which can parse, modify and apply multiple rules to traffic at more than 1 Billion packets per second in a completely deterministic manner. FlexPipe also can be upgraded in the field to support future datacenter networking protocols as they emerge.

The FM6000 series devices are based on Fulcrum's Alta switch architecture that, in addition to FlexPipe, features flexible 10G and 40G Ethernet port logic and third-generation RapidArray output-queued shared-memory architecture. Alta-based FocalPoint devices achieve unprecedented performance while maintaining low cut-through packet latencies of less than 300nS, regardless of configuration or features enabled. Fulcrum's pioneering efforts in developing low-latency Ethernet switch technology has made FocalPoint the preferred datacenter fabric building-block for applications such as financial trading and computer clustering in today's virtualized and high-scale datacenters.

Virtualization is increasing the density of server farms and enabling datacenter operators to efficiently deploy cloud services. In addition, new server architectures include multi-core processors, increasing network bandwidth requirements. The FlexPipe packet-processing pipeline in the FM6000 series devices delivers full line-rate performance across up to 72 ports, offering non-blocking throughput for thousands of virtualized flows.

"Our Dell'Oro forecasting models show that 10GE server ports will grow dramatically in coming years, which will drive demand for high density 10Gb switches and also the demand for 40Gb Ethernet uplinks," said Alan Weckel, director of Ethernet research for Dell'Oro Group. "Given this expected demand, the launch of this switch from Fulcrum is very timely."

FlexPipe allows the functionality of several key logic blocks, such as the packet parser and egress frame modification unit, to be upgraded to support new datacenter networking standards or proprietary performance-enhancing application tags. With this functionality, switch manufacturers can sell switching systems that are field upgradable with support for emerging datacenter interconnect topologies such as TRILL and SPB, as well as emerging virtualized networking standards such as 802.1bg (Edge Virtual Bridging) and 802.1bh (Port Extenders).

There are nine devices in the FM6000 series, each offering a different port configuration and total bandwidth, ranging from 160Gbps to 720Gbps. FM6000 series switches can be used to build very high port-count top-of-rack or end-of-row datacenter switches with industry-leading latency, performance, and scale. With the ability to drive SFP+ direct-attach copper cable directly without the need for an external PHY, the FM6000 series reduces the latency, cost and power of these top-of-rack switch designs. To enable network convergence, the FM6000 supports the efficient mix of storage, HPC and LAN data traffic with extensive QoS and datacenter bridging (DCB) features such as PFC, ETS, and QCN, simultaneously supporting lossless operation alongside bandwidth and latency guarantees. Additionally, system-wide management features offer line rate per-flow monitoring and policing for clear visibility and a single point of management, reducing overall system complexity.

"Fulcrum is changing the game again by delivering standards-based switching solutions that provide advanced features and shatter all established benchmarks for high bandwidth, low latency and power efficiency," said Mike Zeile, Fulcrum Microsystems president and COO. "The FM6000 series, with our revolutionary Alta architecture, is helping define the future of virtual computing by delivering the performance needed for next-generation datacenter fabrics."

Configuration and Availability

All nine members of the FocalPoint FM6000 series will be generally available in 2Q 2011.

Cloud computing has proven to be a cost-efficient model for many commercial web applications, but will it work for scientific computing? Not unless the cloud is optimized for it, writes a team from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

After running a series of benchmarks designed to represent a typical midrange scientific workload—applications that use less than 1,000 cores—on Amazon's EC2 system, the researchers found that the EC2's interconnect severely limits performance and causes significant variability. Overall, the cloud ran six times slower than a typical mid-range Linux cluster, and 20 times slower than a modern high performance computing system.

The team's paper, "Performance Analysis of High Performance Computing Applications on the Amazon Web Services Cloud," was honored with the Best Paper Award at the IEEE's International Conference on Cloud Computing Technology and Science (CloudCom 2010) held Nov. 30-Dec.1 in Bloomington, Ind.

"We saw that the communication pattern of the application can impact performance, Applications like PARATEC with significant global communication perform relatively worse than those with less global communication," says Keith Jackson, a computer scientist in the Berkeley Lab’s Computational Research Division (CRD) and lead author of the paper.

He also notes that the EC2 cloud performance varied significantly for scientific applications because of the shared nature of the virtualized environment, the network, and differences in the underlying non-virtualized hardware.

The benchmarks and performance monitoring software used in this research were adapted from the large-scale codes used in the National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center's (NERSC) procurement process. NERSC is located at the Berkeley Lab and serves approximately 4,000 Department of Energy (DOE) supported researchers annually in disciplines ranging from cosmology and climate to chemistry and nanoscience.In this study, the researchers essentially cut these benchmarks down to midrange size before running them on the Amazon cloud.

"This set of applications was carefully selected to cover both diversity of science areas and the diversity of algorithms," said John Shalf, who leads NERSC’s Advanced Technologies Group."They provide us with a much more accurate view of the true usefulness of a computing system than ‘peak flops’ measured under ideal computing conditions." 

The benchmark modifications and performance analysis in this research were done in collaboration with the DOE’s Magellan project, funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act."The purpose of the Magellan Project is to understand how cloud computing may be used to address the computing needs for the Department of Energy's Office of Science.  Understanding how our applications run in these environments is a critical piece of the equation," says Shane Canon, who leads the Technology Integration Group at NERSC.

In addition to Canon, Jackson and Shalf, Berkeley Lab's Lavanya Ramakrishnan, Krishna Muriki, Shreyas Cholia, Harvey Wasserman and Nicholas Wright are also authors on the paper.

"This was a real collaborative effort between researchers in Berkeley Lab's CRD, Information Technologies and NERSC divisions, with generous support from colleagues at UC Berkeley—it is a great honor to be recognized by our global peers with a Best Paper Award," adds Jackson.

The award is the second such honor for Jackson and Ramakrishnan this year. Along with Berkeley Lab colleagues Karl Runge of the Physics Division and Rollin Thomas of the Computational Cosmology Center, they won the Best Paper Award at the Association for Computing Machinery’s ScienceCloud 2010 workshop for"Seeking Supernovae in the Clouds: A Performance Study."

The Department of Energy's Office of Advanced Scientific Computing Research and the National Science Foundation funded the work; and CITRIS at the University of California, Berkeley donated Amazon EC2 time.

Read the paper here.

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